Zothecula writes: In some peoples’ opinion, electric cars won’t become truly viable until their batteries offer a lot more driving range, and can be recharged much more quickly than is currently possible. Well, those people may soon be getting their wish. Scientists at the University of Southern California have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery, that they claim holds three times as much energy as a conventional li-ion, and can be recharged in just ten minutes.
Zothecula writes: Tunisian green energy startup Saphon Energy has created a new bladeless wind turbine which draws inspiration from the design of a ship’s sails, and promises to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity at up to double the efficiency – and half the cost – of a typical wind turbine.
Zothecula writes: Embattled photovoltaic solar power manufacturer Amonix announced on Tuesday that it has broken the solar module efficiency record, becoming the first manufacturer to convert more than a third of incoming light energy into electricity – a goal once branded "one third of a sun" in a Department of Energy initiative. The Amonix module clocked an efficiency rating of 33.5 percent.
Zothecula writes: Popeye gets his strength from downing a can of spinach and what works for him also works for solar panels. Researchers at Vanderbilt University led by David Cliffel and Kane Jennings have come up with a way to dope silicon with a protein found in spinach to create a more efficient "biohybrid" solar cell that produces substantially more electrical current than previous efforts and may one day lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.
Zothecula writes: Despite their ability to generate clean, green electricity, solar panels aren't as commonplace as the could be. The main sticking point, of course, is price. Due to their need for relatively expensive semiconductor materials, conventional solar cells don't yet have a price-efficiency combination that can compete with other sources of electricity. Now Profs. Alex Zettl and Feng Wang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed seriously unconventional solar cell technology that allows virtually any semiconductor material to be used to create photovoltaic cells.
Zothecula writes: Adopting renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is a great way to reduce emissions and produce energy locally. In places like remote Pacific islands, however, those benefits are potentially a key to independence. For that reason Tokelau, a 10 sq. km. (3.86 sq. mi) island nation that lies around 500 km (311 mi) north of Samoa and which is a territory of New Zealand, is about to ditch diesel as a source of electricity and switch to solar power.
Zothecula writes: Israeli photovoltaics developer bSolar has developed a double-sided solar cell it claims can boost the energy yields of solar panels by up to 50 percent when installed vertically, or by between 10 and 30 percent in more typical installations. The "bifacial" cells rely on a back surface field (BSF) of boron rather than aluminum, which bSolar claims not only allows for an open rear face but also increases the efficiency at the front of the solar panel.
Zothecula writes: If you’ve ever worn a knee brace, then you may have noticed what a large change in angle your knee goes through with every step you take, and how quickly it does so. A team of scientists from the U.K.’s Cranfield University, University of Liverpool and University of Salford certainly noticed, and decided that all that movement should be put to use. The result is a wearable piezoelectric device that converts knee movement into electricity, which could in turn be used to power gadgets such as heart rate monitors, pedometers and accelerometers.
Zothecula writes: For over 60 years, electrical engineers have been trying to minimize the problem of tin whiskers. Growing on tin-plated electronics, the needle-like structures get up to ten millimeters long, and can cause short circuits. Instead of trying to eliminate them, however, Washington State University’s Prof. Grant Norton has been looking into ways of growing them – albeit in a controlled manner. His research has led to the creation of a tin battery anode, which he claims could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.
Zothecula writes: Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have developed technology to cheaply produce stable liquid solar cells that can be painted or printed onto clear surfaces. The technology relies on solar nanocrystals that are around four nanometers in size — meaning you could fit more than 250 billion on the head of a pin. Their size allows them to be suspended in a liquid solution so they could be printed like a newspaper.
Zothecula writes: While electric vehicles have come a long way in the past decade, they still have many disadvantages when compared to internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles have a much lower energy storage density when compared to liquid fuel, they take longer to “refuel,” and they lack the supporting infrastructure that has built up around conventional vehicles over the past century. Now researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a process that could allow liquid fuel to be produced using solar generated electricity.
Zothecula writes: Altaeros Energies has announced the first testing of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) prototype that resembles a sort of blimp windmill. The test took place at the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone, Maine, USA where the AWT floated 350 feet (107 meters) into the sky and successfully produced power, before coming back to earth in a controlled landing. The turbine was deployed into the air from a towable docking trailer, while demonstrating that it can produce over twice the power at high altitudes than generated at conventional tower height. There are hopes to energy costs can be reduced by up to 65 percent by harnessing stronger winds that occur at and above an altitude of 1,000 feet (305 meters).
Zothecula writes: The wonders of graphene seem to know no bounds. Not only is it one of the strongest materials known, is both highly conductive and piezoelectric, it can generate electricity from flowing water and now it is being used to make better supercapacitors. Using a DVD writer, a team of UCLA researchers has invented a new process for making high quality graphene electrodes and used these electrodes to make a new species of supercapacitor. Though the work is in the early stages of development, it could lay a foundation for supercapacitor-based energy storage systems suitable for flexible portable electronic devices.
Zothecula writes: Scientists have succeeded in endowing graphene with yet another useful property. Already, it is the thinnest, strongest and stiffest material ever measured, while also proving to be an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. These qualities have allowed it to find use in everything from transistors to supercapacitors to anti-corrosion coatings. Now, two materials engineers from Stanford University have used computer models to show how it could also be turned into a piezoelectric material – this means that it could generate electricity when mechanically stressed, or change shape when subjected to an electric current.
Zothecula writes: Earlier this year we heard that researchers had implanted a cockroach with an enzyme-based biofuel cell that could potentially be used to power various sensors, recording devices, or electronics used to control an insect cyborg. While it may not be the most dynamic of creatures, a team from Clarkson University has now performed a similar feat with a living snail.